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Current Affairs

Air borne dispersal of SARS-CoV-2

Date: 16 November 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers were able to detect Virus in ventilation openings in one COVID-19 ward and the central ducts that expel indoor air from three COVID-19 wards.

 

Background

The location was distant from patient areas, implying that the virus can be transported long distances from its source.

 

Details

  • Researchers say that this cannot be reasonably explained by droplet transmission alone and that airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 should be taken into consideration for preventive measures. 

  • As per the WHO, airborne transmission is defined as the spread of an infectious agent caused by the dissemination of aerosols that remain infectious when suspended in the air over long distances and time.

  • Airborne transmission can happen during aerosol-generating medical procedures and even through speaking and singing.

  • While the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, does spread through respiratory droplets from one person to another, it has been up for debate whether droplets, containing the virus remain suspended in the air for a long enough period of time to enable the virus to infect a new person.

  • In September, a study suggested that airborne transmission in a bus in China led to one infected individual spreading COVID-19 to over 23 other fellow passengers.

  • Other such outbreaks have been reported in indoor crowded spaces possibly through aerosols in restaurants and fitness classes.

  • Researchers found viral RNA in fluid placed in open dishes suspended below vent openings and similar levels of viral RNA were detected in exhaust filters and open petri dishes.

  • The study notes that while they could not conclude that the viral samples they studied retained their infective ability, the distance at which they detected the RNA suggests that there may be some risk for airborne transmission.